The Path of a Bullet
Amy Wang, Division 2, 7th grade #ws18e-s2d2

There are children huddling underneath the thin wooden table. They are shaking, terrified, with eyes wide and panicked. Their fingers are clenched so tightly that the skin has turned a sickly moon-white. Overhead, the fire alarm blares insistently, the only sound echoing through silence. Not a single person speaks. As the gunshots, the sounds of shattering glass get closer and closer, they hurriedly text their mothers goodbye, “just in case”, with sweaty fingers trembling against the glowing screens of their phones. For some of them, those messages will be the last communication they send to their family.

The geography teacher lying flat on the floor isn’t moving at all. His fingers reach towards the door he was trying to close, his eyes are glassy and peer vacantly at the students he is trying to protect. The shattered glass scattered around him is peppered with sharp brown splinters, but the blood splattered on the broken pieces of shimmering glass is the brightest color of all. When he is rushed to the emergency room, the news spreads like ripples through water. Geography is canceled indefinitely.

Dried, flaking, blood caked the gaping wound in the side of her leg. The shot wasn’t fatal. They said that she was lucky. The bullet grazed her sciatic nerves, but the doctors were optimistic as they wrapped her leg in bandages and gave her a wheelchair. They assured her again that she was lucky enough to defy death because although she would never walk unhindered again, the wound wasn’t even close to fatal. But for a girl who always dreamed of being a dancer who would perform for thousands, it might as well be.

The dried tears of a haggard mother are not for herself, they are for the child in the operating room, her child, who has been drifting on the edge of life and death. She utters no sound as she anticipates and waits and in a sterile waiting room. She stands alone, the harsh light illuminating her weary features, the question stark and pale and floating on the edges of her lips. When the nurse approaches her, she turns, with eyes brimming and hopeful. Yet for all her prayers, the night’s answer will not be the one she is wishing for.

The empty chair at the table has been worn from seventeen years of use. The edges are smooth, speckled, and the legs are wobbling, unsteady with age. The arms are splintered and the fabric on the cushions has faded. But though it is old and almost falling apart, now that he is gone, with only an empty room and half-filled college applications left behind, his father can’t bear to get rid of it.
For all of these victims, all of those who have been subject to the calamity of a school shooting, a classroom will never be a safe place again.

If I could change something in the past, I would alter events so that it isn’t so arduous for the lawmakers currently in Congress, to pass laws on gun control. Yet for those innocent victims that are caught in the path of a maniac, change is only a fleeting dream. They can only cower underneath tables as a murderer with a machine gun plows his way through.

Think of all the school shootings that have happened in the last year; It has only been six months, but the death toll is mounting, rising like it never has before. Besides that, a person, any person, in the United States is twenty-five times more likely to be killed by a gun than in any other economically advanced country. From the Sandy Hook Elementary School Shooting to the most recent tragedy at a high school in Santa Fe, there seems to have been absolutely no change in the ways guns are regulated. Firearms are already too readily available and openly distributed to control. In 2012 alone, there were enough gun applications to stock every army of every member of NATO’s inventory five times over. And there is a seemingly endless array of firearms available to those who have cash. It’s no wonder that the guns and bullets that killed the countless victims of the countless shooters are varied and different.

I understand that people have the constitutional right to bear arms. The United States Constitution clearly says that “right for the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed”. And there was a time when that law was critical. Before our country was formed, it was completely necessary to have guns, because danger lurked around every corner. America was fighting for its independence. The odds were stacked against these new settlers, and without a weapon and any other choice of defense, we would not be living in this country. Time has changed and we are now living in an entirely different era when it comes to gun control. There are even laws that completely ban universal background checks. In America, it is more lethal, to be a high schooler, than it is to be a deployed, active member of the military. So far in 2018, the number of American students killed in school shootings is greater than the number of military personnel who have been killed on active duty. There isn’t even a true tracking of the number of guns sold each year.

If I could change something in the past, I would add clauses that banned the availability of machine guns, AK-15s, and other high power assault rifles. Such weapons do not need to be widely available to the public because there is no actual need for them in defense. Without them, mass murder would be more difficult to accomplish. As for ammunition, I would change the fact that there is currently no limit on how many bullets and magazines one can buy. One only needs a few bullets for self-defense. I would change the fact that a single deranged gunman can be the one who decides who lives and who dies.
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